For those looking to kick off the New Year by getting a chill down their spine, don't miss the New York Times' lengthy takedown of the unraveling of the Bush administration's latest failed strategy in Iraq. The cluelessness and mendacity are even worse than you thought.
How many more times are we going to have to hear about Bush's advisers being taken "by surprise" by events in Iraq -- and, even worse, failing "to take seriously warnings" about how bad things are getting over there?
It's see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil -- with the most catastrophic consequences imaginable.
The Times' story, reported by David Sanger, Michael Gordon, and John Burns, also reconfirms what I wrote last week about the phoniness of the president's claims about how the war is being run.
"You can't make decisions based upon politics about how to win a war," said President Bush in September. "This year, decisions on a new strategy were clearly slowed by political calculations" reports the Times.
"You can't fight a war from Washington," said Bush in October. "You can't make the tactical decisions necessary to win. It just won't work." "By mid-September," reports the Times, Bush had "signed off on a complete review of Iraq strategy -- a review centered in Washington, not Baghdad."
The piece also makes clear the White House's latest PR spin on Iraq: Blame Casey. The top U.S. commander in Iraq is about to become the latest fall guy for the administration's Iraq debacle. So we hear that "as Baghdad spun further out of control," the president "grew concerned that General Casey, among others, had become more fixated on withdrawal than victory." A member of the reality-based community in their midst! A cut-and-runner in Army fatigues! Indeed, we learn that many American field commanders in Iraq "were surprised by General Casey's continued advocacy of withdrawals."
According to the Times, during a discussion in August "President Bush asked General Casey whether he had sufficient troops to secure Baghdad; the general assured him that he did." I guess that lets the president off the Iraq hook, huh? Cancel those hearings, Senator Biden -- mystery solved!
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the story is the president's continued refusal to look at Iraq with anything other than rose-colored glasses.
"What I want to hear from you is how we're going to win, not how we're going to leave," the Times quotes Bush as warning his military commanders during a recent classified briefing at the Pentagon. I guess that's what the president meant when he claimed "I believe that you empower your generals to make the decisions..."
Forget reality, President Bush is all about victory even if, as the Times puts it, "his own advisers differ about how to define it."
"[Victory] is a word the American people understand," he told members of the Iraqi Study Group before they released their report. "And if I start to change it, it will look like I'm beginning to change my policy." Changing your policy? Heaven forbid.
Here are a few other words the American people understand, Mr. Bush: "deluded" and "culpable."
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